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Friday, March 29, 2013

Another book on the Fargo-Minneapolis "drunk pilots" flight

If you read the book I previously reviewed, Flying Drunk: The True Story of a Northwest Airlines Flight, Three Drunk Pilots and One Man's Fight for Redemption by Flight Engineer Joseph Balzer, I highly recommend you also read the book by the pilot in the cockpit's left seat on that infamous journey, Captain Lyle Prouse. His autobiography (and version) of the trip from Fargo, N. Dak., to Minneapolis, Minn., on the morning of March 8, 1990, is titled Final Approch: Northwest Airlines Flight 560, Tragedy and Triumph, published in 2011 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

Like Balzer, Prouse was sentenced to over a year in federal prison, convicted as a felon. And, like his flight engineer, the captain tells his own inspiring story of an escape from alcoholism and the re-building of professional career.

Today, Balzer flies as an American Airlines captain; Prouse retired from Northwest Airlines (now Delta) several years ago and was a 747 captain at the time of his retirement. He received a full pardon from President Bill Clinton in 2001.

Both of these books tell of a life in prison endured - and made the most of - by two men who never thought they'd ever face that kind of experience. These are also two stories of life-changing courage and overcoming unbelievable damage caused by alcoholism.

Each in his own book, Balzer and Prouse are critical of each other. Both books are definitely worth reading. If you've already read or started to read Balzer's book, based on my previous post, I really think you ought to read Prouse's story.

The 1990 flight, documented in these two books, was a notorious and, I would say, historic moment in commercial aviation. It all began at the Speakeasy Restaurant in Moorhead, Minn., and I can't help but recall it every time I visit that establishment. An evening of excessive drinking went from jokes by Jay Leno to amazing and inspiring stories of recovery.

Both of these men continue to serve as motivational speakers throughout the United States and are an inspiration to not only pilots but to all of us. More information on their backgrounds can be found through the links behind their names near the top of this post.

You can obtain more information on Captain Prouse's book through the Amazon link below. I purchased my Kindle copy for about $5-$7 and Flight Engineer Balzer's book for $2.99, with the latest price available through the Amazon link placed below my previous post on that book.